Scott Marks 3:30 p.m., Dec. 24
Hats off to any film that tries (and succeeds) at presenting challenging, off-putting characters from whose palms I’m reluctantly persuaded to eat. Character identification has never been my celluloid raison d'être, but damn if this movie didn’t get to me in a manner destined to cloud critical thinking. Jenny Slate explodes on screen with a cringe-worthy comedy routine, positioned to guide us through the trials and travails of an annoying, foul-mouthed, sexually frustrated, otherwise frustrated stand-up who flunked romance and aced scatology. Once the set ups fall in place, the rewards — particularly a refreshingly unfeigned mother/daughter relationship — are plentiful. The Yiddishe maidel winds up falling for a guy so Christian “he knows Santa Claus.” Much has been written about the filmmakers handling of the couple’s unwanted pregnancy, but at its core, this heart pumps 24-karat emotion, not rusty beats of oft-debated issues. The film’s curtain line (“Do you have somewhere to be?”) is one for the ages. Gillian Robespierre directs. 2014.